Newspaper: U.S. backed talks with ISIS over American hostage

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Newspaper: U.S. backed talks with ISIS over American hostage
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: U.S. President Barack Obama returns to the White House on Marine One on November 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama is returning from Brisbane, Australia where he attended the G20 Leader's Summit. (Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)
"We are heartbroken to learn that our son has lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people." #Kassig http://t.co/5TbmxSs9Fk
Ed & Paula Kassig: "We are incredibly proud of our son for living his life according to his humanitarian calling." http://t.co/Iqm0lCBOY8
MISRATA, LIBYA - JUNE 02: In this handout image made available by the photographer American journalist Steven Sotloff (Center with black helmet) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line, 25 km west of Misrata on June 02, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria and was recently shown on a jihadist video in which fellow US journalist James Foley was executed. In the video the militant form the Islamic State (IS) threatens to kill Sotloff next if the US continues its aerial campaign against the insurgency. (Photo by Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images)
Daily News front page Agusut 20, 2014, SAVAGES - ISIS monster behead U.S. journalist, taunt Obama over air strikes in Iraq - James Foley. (Photo By: /NY Daily News via Getty Images)
British hostage James Cantlie shown in "Lend Me Your Ears: Episode 2." (Clarion Project)
Cantlie rails against Obama's "simplistic" speeches and "under-construction" army. (Clarion Project)
ISIS also went to great efforts to cite American media both quoting the president and showing criticism of his strategies, in this case using a CNN article. (Clarion Project)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a primetime address to the nation from the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, September 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a televised address at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Obama pledged a relentless campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama leaves after speaking during a televised address at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Obama pledged a relentless campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 04: US President Barack Obama (L) meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the NATO Summit on September 4, 2014 in Newport, Wales. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries are meeting at what has been billed as the most important Nato summit since the end of the cold war with the situation in Ukraine and the threat of ISIS likely to be top of the agenda. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 04: (L-R) British Prime Minister David Cameron, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US President Barack Obama talk as they arrive at the NATO Summit on September 4, 2014 in Newport, Wales. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries are gathering for the two day meeting where Ukraine and the ISIS hostages are likely to be discussed. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe - Pool/Getty Images)
NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 04: British Prime Minister David Cameron gestures to US President Barack Obama as they arrive at the NATO Summit on September 4, 2014 in Newport, Wales. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries are gathering for the two day meeting where Ukraine and the ISIS hostages are likely to be discussed. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe - Pool/Getty Images)
Druze men stand in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as they look at smoke rising in the distance caused by fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels over the control of the Quneitra border crossing, on August 27, 2014. Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front, seized control of the Syrian crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights today, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDOF) use binoculars to watch smoke rising in the distance caused by fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels over the control of the Quneitra border crossing, on August 27, 2014. Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front, seized control of the Syrian crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights today, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A rebel fightercarries homemade mortar rounds on September 3, 2013 in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. UN leader Ban Ki-moon said on September 3, 2013 that a military strike on Syria over the use of chemical weapons could worsen the country's conflict. AFP PHOTO / MEZAR MATAR (Photo credit should read MEZAR MATAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Iraqi-Syrian border along the Fishkhabur bridge over Tigris River at the Fishkhabur crossing, in northern Iraq, on August 11, 2014. At least 20,000 civilians, many of whom are from the Yazidi community, who had been besieged by jihadists on a mountain in northern Iraq have safely escaped to Syria and been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, officials said. The breakthrough coincided with US air raids on Islamic State fighters in the Sinjar area of northwestern Iraq on August 9, and Kurdish forces from Iraq, Syria and Turkey working together to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and rescue the displaced. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Peshmerga forces hand out water bottles and show the way to displaced Iraqi families from the Yazidi community as they cross the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur crossing, in northern Iraq, on August 11, 2014. At least 20,000 civilians, most of whom are from the Yazidi community, who had been besieged by jihadists on a mountain in northern Iraq have safely escaped to Syria and been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, officials said. The breakthrough coincided with US air raids on Islamic State fighters in the Sinjar area of northwestern Iraq on August 9, and Kurdish forces from Iraq, Syria and Turkey working together to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and rescue the displaced. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters hold a position on the front line in the Gwer district, 40 kilometres south of Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, on September 18, 2014. France said that it will follow the United States in launching air strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq, as the jihadists posted their latest video of a Western hostage. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters hold a position on the front line in the Gwer district, 40 kilometres south of Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, on September 18, 2014. France said that it will follow the United States in launching air strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq, as the jihadists posted their latest video of a Western hostage. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - U.S. counter-terrorism officials backed negotiations with two prominent jihadi clerics in a failed attempt to save the life of an American hostage who was later beheaded by Islamic State militants, the Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

Citing emails, the Guardian said talks with the spiritual leaders of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, aimed at releasing hostage Peter Kassig began in mid-October and ran for several weeks with the knowledge of the FBI.

U.S. officials were not immediately available to comment on the newspaper report.

Islamic State militants beheaded Kassig, 26, in November. U.S. President Barack Obama said at the time that the killing was "an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity".

The Guardian said the unsuccessful initiative to save Kassig, an aid worker, was the work of a New York lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who has represented Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and members of Hamas in U.S. courts.

Bin Laden Son-In-Law Abu Ghaith Convicted In Terror Trial

Cohen persuaded senior clerics aligned with al Qaeda to intervene with ISIS on behalf of Kassig, the newspaper said. FBI staff confirmed that senior officials at its headquarters were kept abreast of Cohen's actions, the Guardian said.

The bureau confirmed it would pay $24,000 of expenses incurred by Cohen, the newspaper said. An FBI spokesman cited by the newspaper said the bureau's top priority was the safe return of U.S. citizens and that it rarely discussed the details of its efforts in public.

The Guardian said it had provided the Kassig family with the details of the negotiation effort before publication but that the family had declined to respond. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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